Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What would Don Draper listen to?

A few of us here at WGBH were talking today about Mad Men, the show on AMC, and what a brilliant piece of work it is. Yeah, sure, the sets and clothes are oh-so-authentic to the period, and the characters are etched as if with diamonds, giving us all someone to relate to and to loathe. (And it's amazing, by the way, how often I've related to and loathed ... the same character...) Anyway, another reason the show is so compelling is that, to put it simply, we already know what's going to happen. Maybe not to each individual character, but we know enough about the way events unfold in the big picture from the early 60's through the next years and decades that we're riveted by seeing how Don Draper's world stumbled into all of those events and how he, Betty, Peggy, Roger, Pete, and each of the other characters deal with them. (And let's all take a special moment for Sally, heaven help her.) As viewers, we get to be there with them while having the luxury of historical knowledge.

Classical music gives us that same chance. Hearing and really listening to music takes us to a certain age, a particular time, a way of thinking unique in the course of events. And we usually have that luxury of knowing how things turned out. (The exception being new and recently written music, which offers the fascination of seeing the world around us as it is.)

So the next time you flip on the radio, and the music pours forth, use the next several moments. Stop, listen, and allow yourself to go to the place the music came from. Revel in it and soak it up, drinking in every detail just as you do the fabulous mid-century modernist furniture and decor of the Sterling Cooper offices on Mad Men. Allow yourself to be in that space with the music. Then, once the piece concludes, look around and breathe in the present. And, since it's radio, get ready. The next destination is only a couple of minutes away.

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